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Influencing an Unbelieving Husband for Christ

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

For a lot of men, “words are cheap.”

There is something infinitely more powerful to husbands than a wife’s words about God and spiritual things. The thing that may pique a husband’s appetite for Christ is when he sees his wife live out a godly example and strong faith in Jesus – and she doesn’t talk about it.

A husband doesn’t want to hear about how much his wife is changing. He wants to see the change.

God actually shares this with us openly in His Word:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct… let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Pet. 3:1-6

Real, lasting heart and life change over a significant period of time impresses a husband.

At first, when a wife begins to change on this journey to become a more godly, peaceful wife, some husbands react with great joy and appreciation. However, most are confused. A lot of husbands hate change. Even good change. They are skeptical. It takes time for them to see that a wife’s spiritual growth in Christ is genuine. Maybe many months, maybe even years.

HOW TO INSPIRE YOUR HUSBAND

Greg, my husband, explained to me a few years after I began my journey that when I stopped the negative (sinful) things – disrespect, a critical attitude, idolizing him, lecturing, preaching, telling him what to do, insulting him, looking down on him, trying to control him, being argumentative, and reacting in fearit was like someone took the static off of the speaker with God’s voice in his heart.

And then, he said, as I began to learn to do the positive things – genuinely respecting him, honoring him, being friendly, being cooperative, being peaceful and joyful  in Christ, being content in Christ alone – it was like someone put an amplifier on the speaker with God’s voice in his heart.

Once a husband becomes convinced that his wife’s faith is real and he begins to feel emotionally and spiritually safe with her, he may begin to be more and more open to her words about spiritual things. But it will always be her godly life and example that inspires him the most.

Ladies, we have so much influence and power in our marriages! May we use it for God’s glory and for great good!

Lord,

Empower us to become Your agents of change in our families by our godly example. We need Your Spirit and all of the resources of heaven to do this. We are willing. Transform us first! Be glorified in our lives and in our homes.

Amen!

A SNEAK PEAK INTO A HUSBAND’S POSSIBLE PERSPECTIVE

When a man witnesses a huge positive change in his wife’s attitude and behavior, he will try to figure out some “reasonable” explanation first. Perhaps it is simply a phase? Maybe she read some new marriage book or blog post, but in two weeks, things will surely be back to the way they were. He doesn’t want to get his hopes up that this good change could be for real because he doesn’t want to be disappointed. So he keeps his distance and continues to watch her, especially if he is feeling disrespected.

Some husbands actually try to push their wife’s old buttons. If a wife goes right back to her old ways, the husband then feels justified in his skepticism and thinks he has confirmed that she is still the same old wife. If she doesn’t react in her old ways, he gets concerned. Maybe even a bit alarmed. He can’t figure out what might be motivating her, especially if he has not experienced the power of God, himself. He decides to investigate and observe for a longer period of time.

He may not say anything to her, but he notices everything.

As she continues to grow and mature in Christ over a period of time, he becomes more curious and unsettled. He sees how she now seems to have crazy new abilities that she didn’t have before. Her face seems radiant with joy. She is peaceful. She smiles a lot. She seems to enjoy being with him. He finds that when she is sad, it impacts him a lot more. He wants to see her joy come back as soon as possible. He loves her beautiful smile so much.

She doesn’t push him to do things. She makes requests and suggestions, not demands. She allows him the space to make his own choices. She treats him like a grown adult. She laid down a lot of unrealistic expectations of him and of marriage. There is a lot less tension in the home. He feels less pressure, like he doesn’t have to walk on eggshells now. He feels like he can begin to relax. He enjoys peace more than he could possibly say.

His wife asks for what she wants respectfully and shares her feelings and needs directly without hinting around or expecting him to read her mind. He really loves her new approach and is so grateful. She reacts with dignity and poise if he says, “no,” to something. He starts to feel like maybe he has a voice, too, if he felt that he didn’t have one in the past. He gains confidence in sharing more of his thoughts and heart.

She chooses to believe him and takes his words at face value. He experiences grace and forgiveness from her instead of bitterness and resentment. He wonders how she is able to do that now? She respects herself and expects him to treat her with honor and respect, too. She helps to cultivate a “culture of respect” in their family.

He sees that when she does stumble, she immediately apologizes. She takes responsibility for her own sin without justifying herself. She gets right back up and tries to correct her course and he admires that. He knows she’s not perfect, but he sees a big shift. He sees that she stands firmly against sin in her own life and in the family, but that her motive is love, and her approach is wise and humble.

She addresses when he wrongs her, when necessary, but she does it in a respectful way. And she doesn’t seem to get offended nearly as easily as before. He appreciates and admires that. She treats him like a teammate instead of like an enemy, and he is relieved. It’s like she doesn’t look down on him anymore. Maybe there is hope for him and the marriage, after all!

She doesn’t bring up all of his failures from the past any more. She no longer criticizes his family, even though he knows they aren’t perfect. She doesn’t say bad things about him to other people anymore, unless she is privately seeking help from a godly counselor/trusted mentor (and even then, she is careful not to bash him). She is a lot more trustworthy. He opens his heart a bit more.

She seems more understanding than ever before, like she is trying to explore his masculine world, his perspective, and his personality. She seems to appreciate the differences between them rather than assuming he is wrong if he thinks/speaks/acts differently from her. He begins to appreciate her femininity and her unique personality and perspective more, too. She is thankful for his unique strengths and abilities. He stands a little taller.

He sees that his wife is not overcome with fear and anxiety like she once was. That is a relief. When she is stressed, it rocks his whole world more than she knows. He notices her friendly, cooperative attitude with him. He feels like he is on top of the world.

He sees how she doesn’t automatically assume the worst about him. It was so frustrating when she did that before! He could never win. Now she seems to look for the best in him. And she is content even when things don’t necessarily go her way. She is patient and kind even when she isn’t feeling well. The irritable edge is gone from the tone of her voice. She doesn’t seem upset near as much. She seems to care about his feelings and desires, too, not just what she would like. He notices that it’s a lot more fun to be with her lately. She’s such an amazing woman! He feels so much more connected to her.

He thinks:

Who is this woman? What miracle has changed her? What can I do to help?

He doesn’t need to know all of the details about what she is learning and how hard it has been. He just wants to witness this new life that has been birthed in her and he wants to get to experience it with her.

She doesn’t seem needy, clingy and insatiable, like she is depending on him to be responsible for her emotional well-being. There is dignity and strength in her that he has never noticed before. He sees that she is more flexible and wants to trust him whenever she can. She seems interested in his wisdom and perspective now, and he doesn’t want to blow it. He values her trust and tries to step up his game to match hers because he doesn’t want to disappoint this incredible woman.

It is actually possible to do things she seems to appreciate now. He really loves to see her smile and decides to try to do more things she’ll enjoy now that he knows she will respond positively.

He sees the way his wife now treats him with real honor and respect – something he has always longed for – and he finds himself wanting so much to be her hero again, like back when they first met. He feels more masculine around her now that she is softer and more feminine. He feels attracted to her noble character, her mysterious light, her openness and receptivity to him, and her gentleness. He feels more and more safe with her. His defenses begin to drop. He cautiously starts to disassemble the walls around his heart.

She inspires him. He wants to be the amazing man she believes he is, or that she believes he could be, when he sees the light she reflects back to him. He sees her unshakable faith in Christ in the tangible fruit of her daily life.

He begins to see his own sin in stark contrast with his wife’s beautiful life – without one word on her part. And he wants to be a better man and to figure out what he needs to do to get there. He may begin to hunger for the spiritual beauty and Life that she has. He will ask her about her faith when he is convinced that what she has is real and he knows he wants to have that Life, too.

Her godly example and Spirit-filled life convict him and preach a far more powerful sermon than her words possibly could.

The only power this wife loses when she does things God’s way is the power to destroy her husband, marriage, children, and herself. She gains the power of heaven to pour life, healing, and blessing into the marriage.

EACH STORY IS DIFFERENT

Of course, each story has its own unique twists, turns, and timing. Often, it goes a lot more slowly than we would like. It took 3.5 years into my journey before Greg felt safe with me again, for example.

When we follow Christ, we are not guaranteed our husbands will change or that they will come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. Our motives are simply to be that we love the Lord far above all else and that we love our husbands and want to bless and honor them as we pray fervently for God to work in us first, and in them.

Some men who are very far from God are repulsed by the fragrance of Christ and hate feeling so convicted and want to get away. (God gives us instruction about that situation in 1 Cor. 7:10-16.) Even then, they may eventually turn to the Lord. We never know what may happen.

The key is:

As we yield our lives to the Lord and seek to do things His way, we put out a big welcome mat for our husbands to draw near to us and to Jesus.

The Lord will reward us for our obedience to Him and our faithfulness no matter what our husbands may choose to do. What really matters is that we seek to please Him and we are fully yielded to Him.

 

NOTE

Unbelieving husbands DO need to hear the gospel. We all do! And yet, 1 Peter 3:1-2 instructs wives of unbelieving husbands to “win them without a word.” Or, in the KJV, win them without “the Word.” How do we reconcile the passages that say to share the gospel with this passage which says to win our husbands without words?

This is what John Piper has to say about the meaning of this passage:

What does it mean for a wife to win her husband “without a word” (1 Peter 3:2)?
– It does not mean the husband does not need to hear the gospel. – 1 Peter 1:23–25 says that every new birth happens “through the living and abiding word of God . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
– Therefore, the husband needs to hear the good news before wife’s Christian behavior can win him.
– “Without a word” means without an excessive word or a nagging word or a manipulative or pressuring word. (1 Peter 3:2)
– Once this husband has heard the gospel in which his wife believes, her conduct might make all the difference in his salvation.

May we deal with any unrepentant sin in our own lives, because that will greatly hinder our witness for Christ. And then, may the Lord give each wife His Spirit, His wisdom, and His discernment about when to share the gospel, especially if her husband has never heard it, and when to focus mostly on living the gospel before him each day. Our primary means of influencing an unbelieving husband for the Lord will be much more through our actions and attitudes than our words.

SHARE

What wisdom has the Lord shown you on this topic on how to inspire your husband to draw near to the Lord? Or how has this post inspired you to change your approach? We’d love to hear about it!

RESOURCES

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

How to Stay Filled with the Spirit

Why Do I Have to Change First?

Things Got Worse at First When I Began to Change – by the Restored Wife

When a Husband “Doesn’t Buy” His Wife’s Changes

Why You May Want to Keep Your Journey to Be a Godly Wife Secret for a While

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

23 Signs Your Husband Is Beginning to Trust You Again

6 Things I Have Learned from Having an Unbelieving Husband

Without a Word – by WorthyofLove

My Secret Idol – my husband’s salvation

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin – even if we aren’t talking about spiritual things, there are times we may need to address sin

For Wives with Critical, Harsh Husbands by Radiant

A Resource for Wives with Difficult Husbands

 

COUNSELING

**Note, if there are very severe issues going on in your marriage, please seek trusted, experienced, godly, outside help. This post is not written specifically for wives who are dealing with husbands with uncontrolled severe mental health issues, unrepentant abuse, unrepentant adultery, etc… There will be additional issues wives in these situations will need to address. You can check out these resources, or check with a trusted pastor or counselor:

Should a Christian Wife Ever Consider Separation?

Should You Strive to Please or Keep Your Husband at ANY Cost?

And, of course, always check what any counselor tells you against the Word of God.

 

8 thoughts to “Influencing an Unbelieving Husband for Christ”

  1. Really amaaaaazingly helpful, thought provoking, challenging advice ! Thank you so much. This kinda practical stuff is EXACTLY what us new wives need!!
    God Bless ya sister! X

    1. Isaiah6510,

      I’m so thankful God used this to bless you. I sure needed this info 24 years ago when I was a newlywed! Could have spared us a lot of pain and frustration.

      Much love!

  2. I want to thank you for this information too and you are right….I really wish I had this information a long time ago when I was a newlywed. My husband and I went through a really rough time – 3.5 years and we are now picking up the pieces. It is slow progress, but progress nonetheless. There is so much work that I had to do on myself and is still doing. I’m thankful that as I went along this journey, I received information like this to guide me along.

    1. GWilly,

      I’m so glad this is a blessing. Yes, I wish I had known this stuff 24 years ago when I was a newlywed and everything was falling apart and I had no idea how much destruction I was contributing to our marriage, too.

      I’m very thankful to hear that God is healing you both and you are making progress. I know it is often much slower than we would like. But how I praise God for His goodness and His wisdom and ability to heal our brokenness.

      I can’t wait to see all that the Lord has in store for you, dear sister!

      Much love!
      April

  3. Hi April,
    The most valuable part of this post to me is “May we deal with any unrepentant sin in our own lives, because that will greatly hinder our witness for Christ”.

    I have a tendency towards unforgiveness, which has always been a huge stumbling block to my relationship with God and my ability to attract others to Christ. I pray that I will overcome this tendency and become a truly forgiving and merciful person so I can draw my husband and children to Christ.

    Lots of love,
    Nikki

    1. Nikki,
      That is such a crucial point! If we want our husbands to turn to the Lord, we need to check our witness and make sure nothing in our own lives is diminishing our testimony for Christ.

      I am praying with you for God to empower you to forgive – by His Spirit. I can’t wait to see all that the Lord has in store for you.

      Much love!
      April

  4. Thank you so much for this post. I am trying to turn my life around now that I know Christ and I’d love my husband to become a believer too but I know it won’t work if I nag. I have been trying to do just this, win him without word. Your post was very inspiring. It’s hard when you don’t know what your husband is thinking, if he has noticed or not.

    1. callista83, I’m so thankful this was a blessing. Praying for God’s glory and healing for you both, precious sister. And for your husband’s salvation. Can’t wait to see all that the Lord has in store!

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